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The symbol of fauna in Azerbaijan is the Karabakh horse (Azeri: Qarabağ Atı) which is a mountain-steppe racing and riding horse which can only be found in Azerbaijan. It is one of the oldest breeds, with ancestry dating to the ancient world. The horse was originally developed in the Karabakh region in the 5th century and is named after it.
The natural habitat of various types of animals is very different within the country. Some species populate special restricted areas (lakes, parts of mountainous areas) while others are spread throughout the country. For example, passerines can be found anywhere in the territory of Azerbaijan. Protozoa parasites are also registered in all areas of the country, depending on natural habitat of carrier animals (cattle, poultry, etc.). Among mammals, jeyran gazelles populate plain areas, Caucasian goat inhabits the major Caucasus areas, most species of birds can be found in forests, some in water basins. Pest insects occupy different agricultural fields, while others populate defined biotopes only.
A number of natural preserves have been created and the hunting rules were brought into effect for protection of fur and hoofed animals in Azerbaijan.
The animal kingdom of Azerbaijan is very rich, partly due to diversity of its natural complexes.
Azerbaijan has the highest number of mammal species in Europe. Some 107 species of mammals have been recorded in Azerbaijan, three of which are unique species. Popular species are Caucasian goats and west-Caucasus moufflons which inhabit Nakhichevan and western slopes of the Greater Caucasus in Balakan, Qabala, Zaqatala and Ismayilli regions. Jeyran gazelles are among the rarest and fastest species in the Caucasus. These species can only be found in Shirvan State Reserve, Bendovan and Korchay regions of Azerbaijan.
The country's fresh water basins and the Caspian Sea account for 97 species of fish of which eight are introduced and seven of these have become widespread. There are also over 15 thousand species of invertebrates in Azerbaijan. Most can be found in the Kur River, surrounding lakes, as well as in the Mingechevir reservoir. Most of fish are anadromous or semi-anadromous (the young grow up in salt water and migrate to fresh water to breed after they reach maturity). The most valuable of anadromous fish are salmon, sturgeon, stellate sturgeon and beluga. Aspius, Chalcalburnus and eel are also anadromous fish. Sturgeon meat and caviar are highly valuable. Beside, the water basins of Azerbaijan contain such valuable fish species as bream, sazan, rutilus kutum and others. Such fish species as herring are fished in the Caspian Sea. Due to the construction of a number of hydrotechnical plants on the Kur river after 1959, the regulation of the river water flow, as well as the Caspian water pollution led to the significant reduction in the number of valuable fish species. Three hatcheries (Kuragzi, Alibayramli and Kur experimental sturgeon hatchery) for melioration and fish-farming purposes were launched to restore the fish reserves and to increase the number of fish in species. Azerbaijan's fish-farming establishments and hatcheries account for breeding of 20 million sturgeons, 600 thousand salmons, over 800 thousand. A new hatchery with the capacity of 20 million sturgeons was put in commission in Khyly in 2000.
Azerbaijan is incredibly rich in avifauna. There are 363 species of birds recorded from about 60 families. Around 40% of the species are settled in Azerbaijan, however 27% of these species over-winter here, and 10% pass through on migration. One of the most inspiring bird species is the golden eagle which inhabits mainly mountainous areas such as Nakhichevan. The golden eagle has been printed on dozens of stamps and cards in Azerbaijan.
Ten species of amphibians from five families are recorded in Azerbaijan. There are 52 species of reptiles found in Azerbaijan. Most of these species are found in semi-desert areas in Shamakhi and Nakhichevan. Few are found in other lowlands or mountainous areas.
Azerbaijan has a very rich flora, more than 4,500 species of higher plants have been registered in the country. Due the unique climate in Azerbaijan, the flora is much richer in the number of species than the flora of the other republics of the South Caucasus. About 67% of the species growing in the whole Caucasus can be found in Azerbaijan.
The richness of Azerbaijan's flora and the variety of its vegetation results from the variety and richness of its physical-geographic and natural-historic conditions and from its compound history influenced by the remote floristic regions.
Relict genera of the tertiary period can be frequently found in all the zones of Azerbaijan, especially in Lenkeran (Talysh regions). They are the iron tree (Parrotia persica), the Lenkoran acacia (Albizia julibrissin), the basket oak (Quercus castaneifolia), the Caucasian persimmon (Diospyros lotus), the evergreen shrub of Ruscus hyrcana, the box tree (Buxus hyrcana), etc. There are 240 endemic species of plants in Azerbaijan.